ATG Book of the Week: The House of Twenty Thousand Books

House of 20,000Title: The House of Twenty Thousand Books
Author: Sasha Abramsky
ISBN:9781590178881, $19.57

Imprint: New York: New York Review Books, 2015

“The House of Twenty Thousand Books is the story of Chimen Abramsky, an extraordinary polymath and bibliophile who amassed a vast collection of socialist literature and Jewish history. For more than fifty years Chimen and his wife, Miriam, hosted epic gatherings in their house of books that brought together many of the age’s greatest thinkers…

Journalist Sasha Abramsky re-creates here a lost world, bringing to life the people, the books, and the ideas that filled his grandparents’ house, from gatherings that included Eric Hobsbawm and Isaiah Berlin to books with Marx’s handwritten notes, William Morris manuscripts and woodcuts, an early sixteenth-century Bomberg Bible, and a first edition of Descartes’s Meditations. The House of Twenty Thousand Books is a wondrous journey through our times, from the vanished worlds of Eastern European Jewry to the cacophonous politics of modernity.

The House of Twenty Thousand Books includes 43 photos.”




“The sheer richness of this marvelous book— in terms of its style, think Borges, Perec—amply complements the wondrous complexity of the family—in terms of its subject matter, think the Eitingons, the Ephrussi—about which Sasha Abramsky writes so lovingly. And as a portrait of London’s left-wing Jewish intellectual life it is surely without equal.” —Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Mad Man


“Transformative journeys were undertaken by more than a million Russian Jews between the 1890s and 1920s, expelled by successive waves of pogroms, revolution, civil war and persecution. Sasha Abramsky’s tender, intelligent, many-layered memoir of his grand-parents, The House of Twenty Thousand Books, is a version of this same story, at once epic and intimate, rooted in family life but encompassing the sweep of history. At its heart are loss and renewal, tradition and reinvention, schism and continuity.” —Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times


“A wonderful celebration of the mind, history, and love.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review


“This utterly remarkable book vividly captures a lost world.”Library Journal


“Sasha Abramsky has produced a wonderful addition to the canon of Jewish grandchild literature: one that would be well worth its place in Chimen Abramsky’s now immortal house of books.” —Toby Lichtig, The Times Literary Supplement

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